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AMA: Super Team Deluxe

over 3 years ago from

Hey all!

We’re Super Team Deluxe, a collaborative funhouse helmed by friends and co-humans Rogie King, Justin Mezzell, Hannah Mezzell, Drew Melton, & Alicja Colon.

For years—literally years—Rogie King & I (Justin Mezzell) have been kicking the tires on a number of collaborative projects that we never really got off the ground, largely due to disorganization, motivation and/or general lack of prioritization. This April, we decided to put a hard deadline on a project launch wherein if we hadn’t launched by Summer, we’d stop pretending like we were going to launch anything at all. Turns out, that’s exactly what we needed. So we rounded up some folks we’ve always wanted to collaborate with, tightened the velcro on our runnings shoes, and barreled blindly down the road like a clumsy bat with misshapen wings out of hell.

The idea was simple: Most of us have been working the web for quite a while, so it seemed like a nice departure to work in the world of physical goods, since we so rarely get to hold anything we’ve made physically in our sweaty palms. After scrapping a few dead-ends, we ultimately decided to leave room for these ideas to evolve and take shape under the moniker "Super Team Deluxe". The idea has been to simply create products that we'd like for other humans that might like them too. As of now, we’ve launched with a limited edition run of lapel pins and a couple patches, but we’re trying to leave the road open for exploration. After all, we’re still learning a lot and we’d love to invite you in on the journey.

We’re here to answer your questions on design, competitive snacking, the human struggle for significance, and whatever else.

We’ll be answering your questions on Thursday, August 11 starting at 11am EDT (8am PDT) through whenever.

76 comments

  • Daryl GinnDaryl Ginn, over 3 years ago

    Should designers code?

    16 points
    • Justin MezzellJustin Mezzell, over 3 years ago

      It’s a scientific fact that designers should code, break dance with broken legs, be able to recite every lyrics of Barenaked Ladies’ 1998 breakout hit “One Week”, divide by zero, complete at least one Olympic feat better than an Olympian, and/or hold a public office for no less than 17 years. These aren’t our standards by which to measure your candidacy as a designer, merely the universe’s.

      It’s just science and you can’t argue that.

      23 points
    • Drew Melton, over 3 years ago

      It depends on what kind of designer you are. I started out by learning HTML and building websites. In high school I got an internship at a local web design and development company where I learned to program in ASP/Access/Flash/PHP/etc. I can definitely hack my way through a Shopify theme tweak if I need. However, I don't consider this a necessity to being a good designer to be honest. I removes a barrier for certain personal projects (launching a small product line/etc) but otherwise it doesn't contribute to my design directly.

      In short — If you're really passionate about something don't let other people's requirements hold you back. Be curious, be passionate and go for it.

      5 points
    • Rogie KingRogie King, over 3 years ago (edited over 3 years ago )

      document.getElementById('daryl-ginn').style.perspective = 'inherit';

      10 points
  • Bevan StephensBevan Stephens, over 3 years ago

    Love the pin badges, wish you shipped to the UK.

    My question: Do any of you have children, if so how do you find time to to work on side projects like this, and still find time to be a parent and support a family financially?

    7 points
    • Alicja ColonAlicja Colon, over 3 years ago

      Rogie, Justin & Hannah, and I all have kids - 8 all together. That's a lot of poop.

      For me, with 3, I tend to only work on side gigs after they go to bed. My husband and I have a pattern on certain days we have "alone" time - pursuing individually what we are passionate about. Setting those family priorities and expectations help us more forward smoothly.

      In a collaboration like this, it's important for us to keep in mind of each other's family needs. Meaning, when it was time for me to craft the photos, the crew looked to ME to set that timeline - then they respected that decision and set it up in the grand timeline.

      6 points
      • Bevan StephensBevan Stephens, over 3 years ago (edited over 3 years ago )

        Thanks, I like to hear that you schedule your evening time when they're in bed, I need to start doing this instead of just watching Netflix and drinking.

        2 points
    • Rogie KingRogie King, over 3 years ago

      I have 3 spawn and a lady-unit that's chosen to reside with me for all eternity...or until I die, whatever may come sooner.

      Bevan, really for me it comes to choice. I made the choice to turn down other opportunities, be it being a regional foosball champ, or even reading a cool book, or seriously working on other pieces of art in my spare time. The team did the same. We chose to fire all of our ammo at this, and like Alicja said. In our spare time. In the off hours of the evening after the kids goto bed. Or at 6am. It's a bit like a workout routine. It's hard to keep but if you schedule it and are serious about it, even with a family its attainable.

      4 points
    • Drew Melton, over 3 years ago

      I have zero children and my output doesn't hold a candle to the productivity of Rogie/Justin/Alicja — They are amazing.

      2 points
    • Justin Mezzell, over 3 years ago

      Definitely not the easiest thing to do, but I think all of our lives are crazy for any number of reasons. Having children isn't easy when it comes to finding hours in the day, but neither is holding down a job, working on passion projects, finding time to socialize like a human, or finding your own time for solitude.

      Not matter what you do in life, you're going to be prioritizing your time to do what you want to be doing. I think, for me, time management in parenthood has more manifested itself in being more time-boxed in how time is used. I'll typically work in sprints where I can hyper-focus for a burst of time and oftentimes those happen around 11pm when the kiddos are dozing.

      1 point
    • Justin Mezzell, over 3 years ago

      Oh, also we ship to the UK now! <3

      1 point
  • Joshua Ariza, over 3 years ago

    Great design concepts so far. Love the product shots too.

    Any concerns about a crowded lapel pin market place? What products are next (plz say hats)?

    4 points
    • Rogie KingRogie King, over 3 years ago

      Thanks, Josh! Concepts are done by the entire team...trust me, the idea list is huge but not all of them make the cut...product shots done by Alicja. She's amazing and really took it to the next level!

      Yeah, we getchu, boo. Yeah, lapel pins are taking off like mad and have been trending pretty hard for the last few years. We're totally cognizant of that and have a huge desire to branch out. Ultimately, we just wanted to put something out there and not jump in every direction. At the beginning, we were thinking of doing like 4 product types, but really tailed that off to launch sooner and keep shipping simple.

      3 points
    • Justin MezzellJustin Mezzell, over 3 years ago

      This market is crowded like whoa. Lapel pins ended up becoming the first little medium we worked in after trying out a bunch. We were actually originally going to be making little trading cards in the very first iteration of products, but after trying a lot of samples, we never really fell in love with the medium. It's absolutely the plan to keep growing and pushing into new territories.

      Of course Rogie wants hats since we've all yet to see him without one.

      1 point
  • Anthony Garand, over 3 years ago

    Rogie, in your underwear modeling days which kind did you prefer most? Asking...for a friend.

    2 points
    • Rogie KingRogie King, over 3 years ago

      Anthony, it's great to see a fan from my modeling days still appreciating the funk that I brought to the artform. So, thanks for that. Bless up, child.

      Personally, I've been down a tattered path of underwear realization and at this stage, I'm not even sure who or what I am...so even though I hate labels, I'd have to say im just a bit underwear-curious.

      1 point
    • Justin Mezzell, over 3 years ago

      We all know Rogie prefers his natural, buff state the most. Common knowledge.

      1 point
    • Drew Melton, over 3 years ago

      Rogie wears underwear?!

      1 point
  • Kyle DeckerKyle Decker, over 3 years ago

    You guys are all super talented. Bit of a broader/philosophic question here, but... why do you design? What's the thing that drives you to keep learning and improving your craft?

    2 points
    • Justin Mezzell, over 3 years ago

      Wow, such a rad question. This answer will just be for me. I think it's a pretty multi-faceted, and I'm going to try earnestly—and not just go for the romantic.

      I struggled a lot in trying to figure out what it is I wanted to do while in school. I've wanted to be a great many things, but hadn't really considered any of the artistic leanings, though they were a huge part of my growing up.

      By the time I figured out that design was a career I had have and sustain, I was almost out of college. For me, it was almost like discovering this whole new world of people who "made" things, all by themselves. I had really wanted to be a filmmaker, but there are so many limitation to working solo in that world. Chief among those, I didn't have a great camera, a budget to work with, actors, etc. So when I discovered this career, wherein I could create what I wanted on my own, it was like discovering a whole new medium for story. I was originally a Philosophy and World Religions major in school, after all.

      Wow, that's a lot of setup. Anyhow, I'd say that now, what keeps me most excited is working in a field like technology with Code School that has a huge aim, which is to arm this generation and the next with the tools and proficiencies that are such an enormous part of our world. I love the idea that I could be making something that my daughter could one day be excited about learning from!

      Super Team, on the other hand, is my way to play in a realm that's more about having fun and allowing myself to take joy in those little things that inspire me, or just bring a smile to my face. It's not going to change the world, but it's something that I feel like I have to allow myself to do, which is to express some inner delight and get the change to do with those I haven't yet had the opportunity to do it with.

      And why keep learning and improving? Because I'm nowhere near done yet. At least I hope not! I'm so humbled to be working in such a great field with so many kind folks who will willing teach and invest in my own personal growth. If I don't take advantage of that, what a missed opportunity! It's good to remember what a privilege it is to get to do what we get to do from time to time.

      Thank you for this question!

      3 points
  • Cristian MoiseiCristian Moisei, over 3 years ago

    Nice website.

    2 points
  • Max LindMax Lind, over 3 years ago

    Hey Guys! - thanks for joining us...

    • How does the process for designing, prepping, and approving designs for pins or patches differ from something like a simple print job?
    • What's the best way for someone to keep tabs on when new items hit the store?
    • You mention the possibility of collaborations in your W(ho)TF page :) ...are you thinking these products could eventually be sold on the site?...or more so meant for the collaborator's use only?
    • What's the coolest and/or most random thing on the internet you keep coming back to as of late? (could be a website, service, album on Spotify, etc)
    2 points
    • Justin Mezzell, over 3 years ago
      • I haven't been in the Print Kingdom for some time, but I used to work on magazines. That was definitely a tougher world to work in as print weeks were essentially spent sleeping in the office on a copier or under a desk. So far, we haven't pulled those hours, but I've also noticed that while these are much smaller pieces to work, the time we have to spend concepting is so much longer. Getting the sizes just right for this medium has been one of the more fuzzy areas as designs that are too complex get muddied and also start to resonate less with folks. This first batch was definitely a bit of a wide swath in terms of complexity and style since we really wanted to pressure test the canvas in what this medium was capable of.

      • As for updates, we've got a newsletter that you can sign up for on the site as well as our various social accounts on this here internet via Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

      • Collaborations! Right now, we're just getting things going and figuring out just what our current bandwidth allows for. In the future, we'd love to be able to bring in other artists on goods!

      • Regretfully, I'm a voracious consumer of Imgur and dank memes. That includes but isn't limited to cool/random.

      0 points
  • Nate vNate v, over 3 years ago

    Who whipped up that delightful theme you guys are rockin'? Also, you guys should use some of our apps :P

    2 points
    • Rogie KingRogie King, over 3 years ago

      Nate, that was me! But, like everything, we are bouncing ideas back and forth with the team. Some ideas get squashed, some don't. So, while technically I authored the HTML/CSS/Shopify theme/Visual Design and UX of the site, ideas came from all of us, critique came from all of us, lettering came from Drew Melton and Photos came from Alicja.

      Ultimately, Alicja riffed off of ideas from Justin. Ideas for the theme came from conversations between Justin and I and thats the beauty of a team. At some point in the process, you forget it's even you making/owning these ideas because you're not really sure of the origination point, nor does it really matter because team.

      What apps do you suggest?

      3 points
      • Nate vNate v, over 3 years ago

        Cool man, I respect a team that does their own work.

        I work for Bold, so we got a bunch of apps.... but our Product Upsell app does wonders for sales, and it isn't too harsh on the pocket book. Usually a good start. Maybe also install Recurring Orders if you want to get a subscription going for future products or something.

        0 points
  • Devin JacovielloDevin Jacoviello, over 3 years ago

    Should designers dance?

    2 points
    • Justin Mezzell, over 3 years ago

      Designers that cannot dance are rare in the natural kingdom. Most designers born in the wild are predisposed towards their own ancestral dances and to neglect those parts of your soul has been shown to be disastrous on an ecological scale. Also, no.

      2 points
    • Drew Melton, over 3 years ago

      Please don't dance (if you're a designer).

      0 points
    • Rogie KingRogie King, over 3 years ago

      Hell yeah. I'll be the first to admit I've not seen a designer dance well, and thats the beauty of it. Embracing your shitty moves and just moving. So yeah, dance.

      But, I call it rage-dance because rage-dancing is the best. Dance at your desk, dance in public. Put it all out there.

      1 point
    • Alicja ColonAlicja Colon, over 3 years ago

      Yes. Hard. All the time.

      2 points
  • Angel Vasquez, over 3 years ago

    What designers are your inspiration at the present time?

    1 point
    • Rogie KingRogie King, over 3 years ago

      Justin, Alicja and Drew.

      1 point
    • Drew Melton, over 3 years ago

      Tony Dispigna, Ken Barber (forever), Herb Lubalin, Erik Marinovich, Neil Hubert, Tattoo artists, Simon Walker, Steve Powers, the Hoodzpa Twins, and I could go on and on...

      1 point
    • Justin MezzellJustin Mezzell, over 3 years ago

      Oh, great question!

      Loving the work of James Gilleard right now. Such stunning work with geometry and creating depth.

      Also, huge fan of MUTI as their work is so diverse it's overwhelming.

      Also, these folks at Super Team Deluxe. It's why we're working together :)

      2 points
    • Alicja ColonAlicja Colon, over 3 years ago

      I think for me it's both the caliber of work, but also the heart behind it. Frankly I'm always smitten by the work of the Focus Lab team and Super Team - as each designer I've worked alongside are humble, about collaboration, and highly skilled.

      1 point
  • Federico SarassolaFederico Sarassola, over 3 years ago

    We want t-shirt! I love the illustration from Rogie & Justin Not actually a question at all

    1 point
  • Heath VanSingelHeath VanSingel, over 3 years ago

    The product photography on the site is pretty great. Could give some background on the process in its creation?

    Also I almost used the abbreviation "your STD photography" but chose the high road instead.

    1 point
    • Drew Melton, over 3 years ago

      STD photography for everyone.

      3 points
    • Alicja ColonAlicja Colon, over 3 years ago

      Well, Heath, this is my fav question yet asked. It could be that it's directly related at me, or your moral high role abstaining from "STD photography" - but more likely the former.

      First is concept... it needed to be simple enough to further the idea of the product, but also be unique in that it didn't step on another product photo's toes. I reach out to others for concepts, but ultimately the designer of the pin is the Creative Director of the shoot.

      Second is production of sets... props, backgrounds, colors, it's all considered. Some propers are made out of fake blood, others out of paper. Many times the concept is figured out but it takes lots of iterations on executing with with set to find a solid direction.

      Third is lighting .... light is part of the story. The angle, the modifiers - again this is iteration.

      Lastly - post production. Few of the product shots were simple edits and retouching, while others are composites.

      I've broadcasted the production of Untitled-1.ai on Twitch, if you're interested: https://www.twitch.tv/alicjacolon/v/81756054

      2 points
  • Angel Vasquez, over 3 years ago

    Do you think it's necessary to know how to draw to make some awesome artwork? Like, Super Team Deluxe style?

    1 point
    • Justin Mezzell, over 3 years ago

      Well, I'm not a good hand-drawn artist. So there's that. Also, I don't do it very regularly, so it hurts about five minutes into doing it. But I like working with computers!

      0 points
      • Angel Vasquez, over 3 years ago

        I'm pleased to know that. I'm not good at hand-drawing either. But I think the computer is easier for me to make good designs.

        0 points
    • Rogie KingRogie King, over 3 years ago

      I think it's really important to draw, period. it's a valuable skill to help put ideas out there, super fast...take a gander at it, and scrap it or move on. But, there are many ways to draw. Like take Justin, he CAN DRAW, but he actually draws faster using vector tools in illustrator. So, most of his art is informed by that tool. Drew is probably the best at drawing — his control is pretty off the chain.

      But, to get at your question a bit more directly..what sort of art are you trying to make?

      0 points
  • Joe Baker, over 3 years ago (edited over 3 years ago )

    How does this compare to Fine Goods Market?

    What pros/cons did you guys come up with, having a completely separate site rather than a 'shop' tab on your own portfolio?

    1 point
    • Rogie KingRogie King, over 3 years ago

      Hey Joe! Fine Goods is a simple little storefront for my (Rogie's) goods. Well, not those goods...if you know what i mean. More like physical...er...products. You know, prints, pins, etc.

      Super Team is a collaborative born out of a desire to make cool shit. We have a mission statement as well, but its secret...not because we want to be exclusive, but out of a desire to protect humanity from the sheer glory and weight of its wit and depth, we fear it could bring humanity to the ultimate realization of self-worth and our eternal purpose. So, we're holding onto the reveal of that.

      Butchea, super team is about being greater together than apart. Bringing our strengths together for the greater good, you know like if we could time travel, we'd try to prevent global atrocities like the creation of Dumb and Dumberer or the fall from grace of Lindsay Lohan from ever happening. Also, getting outside your own head and making stuff with others, while risky, is so damn rewarding.

      1 point
      • Drew Melton, over 3 years ago

        Justin and Rogie first approached me to help them with a lettering treatment for the logo. I've been freelancing on my own for years but I've definitely gotten tired of working alone. We all just clicked right away and as they described the project I found myself eager to help with more than just the logo design. I wanted to help with pretty much everything. So I decided to go out on a limb and let them know that I wanted to help make Super Team a world dominating force (for good) and they (fairly quickly) said yes please!

        Super Team is really just a group of people who like working together. There is also no way that any one of us could have come up with this project on our own. We can do more together than apart! It's been a blast.

        2 points
      • Joe Baker, over 3 years ago

        Awesome :) Best of luck to you all.

        0 points
  • Joshua Ariza, over 3 years ago

    What brands are inspiring you guys right now?

    1 point
    • Justin MezzellJustin Mezzell, over 3 years ago

      For me, I've sort of let my love of interests kinda run wild on this thing. I'm a big fan of tattoos and collect them on my skin myself, so that played a huge factor in this first run for me since pins are worn on the body as well. There wasn't a particular artist that was the larger inspiration, but I'd say American Traditional as a style was a big influence. Super Team all sort of came from this idea of marrying things that could be perceived as hard and/or badass (a la tattoos) with things that felt more soft and fun (like working with computers for a living). That's been a theme for us on this first run.

      A lot of the idea behind Super Team and how we approach goods is pulling from those things in life that were great sources of joy and delight. I think one of the bigger brands that we love (that's made its way into future plans) is Nintendo as I've felt they've played a huge role in my joy growing up. There's something so infectious about those characters and the universes they created—it's just masterful world-building. To be able to play in that sandbox is something I've wanted to do since I was a kid. And Nintendo hasn't come knocking on my door yet, so I guess I've just been finding my own ways to connect with things like that on my own terms.

      Other than that, I love things that make me smile like The Onion / Clickhole, memes, 80s sci-fi movies, and comics.

      1 point
    • Rogie KingRogie King, over 3 years ago

      See Justin's more fleshed out reply, but just to throw some of my own stink at this...I think I'm inspired more by things not necessarily perceived as a brand, like cartoons on Cartoon Network or a conversation that Justin and I had that had us cracking up...or maybe a conversation Drew, Justin and I had that was a touch cynical about some stuff we hated hearing in design circles.

      But ultimately, we really aren't talking a whole lot about how others are doing it or really wanting to be like them. We figured we've racked up enough life experience and affinities and what-not like our love for video games and sci-fi as kids, or the fact that we're so lucky to be growed up nerds sitting on our asses in front of glowing screens making riffs off of pokemon art.

      I think an underlying inspiration or theme in general for all products we're making is this idea of being really child-like, like when you were a kid and you didn't know you were NOT cool. You just were. For us, that takes the shape of blending all this bad-ass tattoo/biker/hard culture (to us, this idea of puffing your chest out and saying...hey look, im hard, im cool) with the ironic twist of really the person you are inside that maybe loves donuts and hates running, or just loves pokemon as a 36 year old balding programmer and father of 3. We think theres a lot of beauty in the irony and some fun counter-cultural statements to make about not taking ourselves too seriously and not losing the kid inside of us. Not pandering to the masses to BE COOL and to JUST BE.

      2 points
    • Drew Melton, over 3 years ago

      Oh man — To be honest my inspiration has come from a lot of the street art around Los Angeles lately. I LOVE the super fat overlapping lettering you see painted on overpasses and random sidewalks. I also love anything and everything by Herb Lubalin, Tony Dispigna, Ken Barber, The Quiet Life, Vintage movie posters, Psychedelic poster art and Dad's Paper Signs.

      1 point
  • blake ashworth, over 3 years ago

    Rogie, when will you be back on Twitch?! It's so refreshing to see a group of super talented creatives being really transparent, sharing tips, etc, for example Rogie, the things you share with us on Twitch, and Alicja's bts of the lapel pin shots, showing us your failures etc. I hope this becomes more prevalent in the design world. Keep it up guys!

    0 points
    • Alicja ColonAlicja Colon, over 3 years ago

      Hey Blake! the creation of Untitled-1.ai is here ---> https://www.twitch.tv/alicjacolon/v/81756054

      0 points
    • Rogie KingRogie King, over 3 years ago

      Blake, hopefully soon! I know that Alicja is keeping up her schedule and Justin, well, Justin is just the actual worst at staying with his schedule. Go figure tho, he's actually streaming today.

      Butchea, definitely going to get back at Twitch soon. It honestly brings me a ton of life and I love doing it. Yeah, I love just being buds with the design community. It really fits with Super Team's perspective of not being above everyone but really just being alongside this rad group of people and learning together.

      Thanks for the encouragement!

      0 points
  • Jacob Haynes, over 3 years ago

    Will you guys ever make a dribbble team?

    Are the gonna be prints we can buy of those beautiful illustrations?

    0 points
    • Rogie KingRogie King, over 3 years ago

      We've considered it but we've also noticed that it's pretty great when each owner uses her/his own voice to talk about things in a really organic way. We don't want to lose that personal touch...so, we might...but its always important to talk about things from our own human standpoint too.

      Prints...hmmm, not sure. We might if the requests come in like a wrecking ball...Ultimately, we want our products to make you feel like you're awesome, and you can do anything...and that you have a really nice body...well, and all that.

      1 point
  • David Siglin, over 3 years ago (edited over 3 years ago )

    First, bought myself some awesome pins, can't wait to get them. The site is super swank as well. Love the 3D effect of the overlay and receding background. Second, I had a friend yesterday ask me where they could get some pins made. Not sure if you guys want discuss your supplier but I'd definitely appreciate any pin-making shops you could point me to. Thanks and keep up the super good work.

    0 points
  • Joshua Ariza, over 3 years ago

    Having worked in apparel and now owning a brand, I learned design takes like 5% of my time. The rest is shipping, customer service, product dev, content creation, marketing and other shit.

    Is this your experience and how do you divvy responsibilities?

    0 points
    • Drew Melton, over 3 years ago

      So far we have been mostly designing and developing the products/platform/brand experience. For me the focus has been entirely on designing things on a regular basis. Having Rogie, Justin, Alicja and Hannah all doing their part makes my job feel much more focused.

      0 points
  • Veronica Wong, over 3 years ago

    You've got your own things going, family, life, etc and you all live in different places. So what's the collaboration process like for you guys and what tools do you guys use to help in that process?

    0 points
    • Justin MezzellJustin Mezzell, over 3 years ago

      We're all about that Slack. It's definitely the go-to for communication at the group level. We've got rooms for this, rooms for that etc.

      But I think perhaps the most valuable part of this is that we actually like each other quite a bit (or at least I do). So we're keeping up with each other anyway. A lot of these ideas for products are born out of general, non-focused discussion where a thread appears and we just start pulling on it to see if there's anything there.

      0 points
  • Kyle BavenderKyle Bavender, 3 years ago

    Super Team Deluxe. Yesssss.

    I am late to the AMA party like no other — I blame a vacation and Stranger Things. But I'm here, and I come with questions.

    1. I've been following Rogie & Justin for years, Professional Interwebs Lurker™ style — and am discovering I've missed out on following Drew, Alicia, & Hannah. How did you get to know each other?
    2. The "Never Stop Exploring" patch — did you ever come to an iteration with just "Never" / "Stop", top / bottom, respectively? That the patch currently doesn't — but is so close to — honoring the N(orth) / S(outh) directions feels a bit off. Could be just me. I absolutely love every other facet of this patch, though.
    3. What was the hardest part of the site to develop? Or the hardest front-end part at least? (Excellent work by the way, Rogie & others. Love that the curved borders & framing match so well with the brand.)

    Looking forward to what you have up your sleeves! I just signed up to be notified when Command Z restocks. :)

    0 points